STEPPING OUT ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’
is well worth the visit
Jesus (Eric Kunze) talks to his disciples in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. (photo by Alysa Brennan)
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” is being presented with pathos, power and passion at the Civic Light Opera of South Bay Cities.
The CLOSBC has assembled a superlative company of committed performers who add a deep and discerning knowledge to the text and music. This profundity and understanding with which the actors convey tried-and-true themes creates a prophetic immediacy that resurrects the 38-year-old rock opera with a fresh feeling of vitality.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” was first recorded as a rock album. Theater producers feared box office repercussions from its controversial themes and the studio manipulation explains the music's polished transitions and precise overlapping melodies that support the conflict which surrounds Christ's last seven days on earth. Rice's poignant lyrics and Webber's visceral score live and breathe in the collective consciousness. The music ebbs and flows with waves of contradictory emotion that is illustrated with clenched-fist frustration to opened-arm compassion. Writer Tim O'Horgan's conception of Christ's moment of doubt through Judas' eyes creates an ideal moment of internal conflict. As Judas begins to fear Christ's message is being lost - due to his superstar deity status and his questionable relationship with Mary - Judas starts to lose hope in Jesus' gospel. Judas loses faith; therefore, he loses himself. In O'Horgan's conception, Judas is not so much a pawn of God but a man constantly battling his own doubt and fear. This is a timely theme for the conditions humanity must currently face.
Director Stephanie A. Coltrin infuses an already rich show with contemporary spice and flavoring. Her use of the apron, which extends past the orchestra pit, puts the audience right in the action. More than half of a director's battle is casting strong, passionate talent, and Coltrin has assembled a cast of Broadway veterans whose voices shake the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center's rafters with muscle. The principal players including Eric Kunze (Jesus), Josh Tower (Judas), Karole Foreman (Mary), Ron Kellum (Peter), Jody Ashworth (Caiaphas), Kevin Bailey (Pilate), Robert Sean Thompson (Annas), Jason Webb (Simon) and Harrison White (Herod) embody their roles with such commitment and power they transcend previous interpretations. The passion of the ensemble matches and supports the principals eloquently.
Marc Oka's choreography is strong and innovative while simultaneously paying tribute to the counterculture movement, which the music evokes. Musical director Alby Potts and the men and women in the pit make love to Webber's driving visceral rock score. CLOSBC's designers and crew keep the show's production standards at the highest level.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” has an intense and loyal following, so get in line and buy a ticket.